“I always wanted to make a movie where a guy’s life is really bad, and then something happens and it makes it worse. But instead of resolving it, he just makes bad choices, and then it goes from worse to really bad. And things keep happening to him, and he keeps doing dumb things, so his life just gets worse and worse, and darker. He lives in a one-room apartment, he’s not a very good-looking guy, has no real friends, and he works in a factory where they…like a sewage disposal plant. And then he gets fired, so now he doesn’t even have his job at the shit factory anymore, and he’s going broke and takes a trip and it rains. But then he meets a girl and she’s beautiful and he falls in love, so you think that’s going to be the thing, the happy thing, but then she turns out to be a crook and she robs him. She takes his wallet, and he’s stuck in the middle of nowhere and he’s got no wallet, no credit card. Like, what do you do? How do you even get home?”
I’d pay to see that, wouldn’t you? It’s Louie’s idea for a feature-length film, pitched to the vice president of Paramount Pictures after he wows her during a punch-up meeting. Everything she said, nay punctuated, sounded like something from a movie, in a scene where a character says, “Tell me about it,” walks away, turns back, and finishes, “Stud.” This one original guy in a room full of script doctors intrigues her, because his ideas are good, or at least drastically better than what was already on the page. But you know you have a shit movie on hand when “the dog hits the alarm clock” is an improvement.
I’ve never been to a punch-up meeting, but I can imagine they’re joyless affairs, where everyone believes their ideas could improve the script, but they’re afraid to voice them because the scriptwriters, whom you’ve probably never met, are present. Improving jokes among friends is one thing (that’s why the original Simpsons writing crew was so good; they all came from roughly the same background and weren’t afraid to call each other out, because everyone knew it was for the good of the show), but to do it in front of millionaire producers and other comedians you’ve never met, that’s much tougher. Louie, after smearing what appears to be jelly all over his previously unlooked at script, offers his dog alarm clock suggestion, which sets off a rapid stream of story improvements from the other writers. I guess all it takes is one guy.
The VP of Paramount, the titular Ellie (played by Veanne Cox, a.k.a. “Toby” from Seinfeld, the one who Jerry heckles at her workplace and she loses her pinky toe, leading to my all-time favorite Kramer scene) admires Louie’s creativity and originality in the meeting, but outside of those confines, with a multi-million dollar movie on the line, she becomes so bored and distracted by his script idea (see: above) that she literally goes to another table, where she’s among others who are afraid and unwilling to think of anything new. Paramount’s next release in real life: a remake of Footloose.
No new ground was really accomplished with “Ellie.” The script meeting itself was pretty funny and Louie’s movie idea is fantastic (especially the line, “He doesn’t even have his job at the shit factory anymore”), but the story basically boils down to: writers, good; movie studios, evil. (I think it’s at least somewhat relevant to note that Pootie Tang, one of the weirdest, oddball movies ever, was distributed by Paramount.)
The slightly underwhelming feeling about the episode is applicable to “Halloween,” too, where Louie goes trick-or-treating with his previously-bitching-about-medicine-that-tastes-like-candy daughters, one of whom is dressed up as a fairy and the other as Frederick Douglass (Why? “She read a book about Frederick Douglass”). It’s getting late, but the girls want to keep acquiring candy, a request they soon regret when the sun goes down and the freaks come out in Manhattan. It’s actually quite terrifying walking around NYC on Halloween — it feels like a lawless, Thunderdome-esque place, where anyone could do anything to you and no one would be able to tell because it’s All Hallow’s Eve. The guy in the Austin Powers costume isn’t getting stabbed — he’s just acting like he is! Plus, he probably deserves it!
Two young punks, dressed as a goblin (Finn from The Sopranos!) and a mummy, semi-respectively, start to follow and eventually trap the C.K. trio against a wall. Then…nothing. The mostly-mute mummy admits that he’s going to hurt them, and it appears something bad is about to happen, until Jane starts jabbing them with her fairy wand and Louie throws a piece of metal through a store window, alerting the police of their location, and the bad guys run away.
It’s another example of the emasculation of Louie, about how his young daughter, dressed as a fairy no less, could thwart the bad guys, while he stayed behind her, seemingly at a lost of what to do. (Couldn’t have gone into a store or restaurant and called the cops for an escort back to the apartment? Couldn’t have taken a cab?) It’s an idea that the show has done before, and has done with more precision and a better pay-off, too.
“Halloween/Ellie” wasn’t a great episode of television — not just of Louie, but of television, because that’s where the show’s been the past few weeks: “Country Drive,” “Subway/Pamela,” “Oh Louie/Tickets,” “Come On, God,” and “Eddie.” I mean, holy shit, that’s season two of Arrested Development great — but it was funny enough. That being said, I can’t wait for next week’s episode, called simply “Duckling.”
Josh Kurp wonders if the non-masturbating roommate was David Cross, because they lived together in Boston.